Now at home, in the crowded Baltimore Metro area, I find myself falling back into some old, bad habits. Specifically, the tendency to judge other drivers and be mad at them. So many cars in so little space makes for some crowded road conditions. Cars are abundant, omnipresent. I forget sometimes that, in each of these vehicles (usually one person per vehicle, unfortunately) is a human being. Driving a car does not, as we may believe, make a person immediately an idiot. It’s so easy, though, to fall back into that mode.
Driving down the road I find myself angry without much provocation . Angry at the people behind the wheel of all those cars. “You cut me off, you dumbo!” “Where did you learn to drive?” “That was such a stupid move!” Truth be told, drivers of cars frequently make mistakes. Some are small and irritating. Some are huge and irritating as well as dangerous. I’m not saying that I should be able to ignore the dangerous moves of another driver. That would be dangerous for me!
The question is, how can I ignore, or rather accommodate, those little driving gaffes that we all make. You know, the small things. Like changing one’s mind in line under a red light and not quite fitting into the new lane, thus blocking my way (as if I’d get far anyway!). Or, forgetting to use one’s turn signal until the last moment or not at all. Any driver wanting to move their car in front of you in the travel lane. These small things are not life threatening (usually) and can be accommodated. I can relax and not let them bother me. Even better, maybe I can even back off a bit to help the person who changed their mind under the red light and move a few inches so they can fit in. Or, give a little wave and a little space to the guy who wants to nudge his car in front of yours. Relax. Smile at the person in the other car.
It’s a good exercise for me – to actively practice unclenching; relaxing. To help another driver in a small way. It doesn’t really make me late. Not at all. There’s lots of tension involved in keeping people from “taking advantage” of me. Which is exactly the bad habit I’m in danger of falling back into.
So, I’ll take a cue from The Voyage of the Tramper and see my fellow humans, even those behind the wheel, as the lovely, intelligent, capable people that they probably are and give them a break in traffic. It enriches me to be generous. And it just might make someone’s day.
All photos in this post are from Wikimedia Commons.